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Compangnie Generale Transatlantique


Her life would begin as T-6 on January 26, 1931 as the first plates of steel where laid at the Penhoet shipyards of Chantiers de l�Atlantique, France. She would be named the S.S. NORMANDIE and was launched on October 29, 1932. At 1,029 feet and 83,423 tons she was the largest ship in the world a title she would trade back and forth with the British Cunard Liner R.M.S. QUEEN MARY. From 1936 through 1939 the Atlantic Blue Riband would be another prize the two ships would compete for.

The S.S. NORMANDIE would leave her home port of Le Havre bound for New York on May 29, 1935; she would cross the Atlantic in four days, three hours and two minutes at an average speed of 29 knots, capturing the Atlantic Blue Riband. The French Line was so confident she would beat the record that a special medallion had been made commemorating the event and was given to passengers on her arrival to New York. In 1938 along with her regular transatlantic crossings she would make two cruises to the Caribbean and Rio de Janeiro. On August 23, 1939 the S.S. NORMANDIE would sail from Le Havre for the last time. Her arrival in New York on August 28 would be the last time she would ever sail again. The United States Coast Guard went onboard in May 1941 to protect her from possible sabotage. In December 1941 she was seized by the United States Government and taken over by the US Navy. In January 1942 she was renamed USS LAFAYETTE and work was began to convert her into a troop carrier.

On February 9, 1942 a workmen�s cutting torch would start a fire that spread throughout the ship. Tons of water were poured onto the liner by the New York City Fire Department in an attempt to put out the inferno; the weight of the water proved too much, and by the next day the S.S. NORMANDIE would keel over onto her port side. Work was started to refloat the liner on June 11, 1942 and on September 3, 1943 she would be sitting upright at her pier 88 berth. The wreck of the S.S. NORMANDIE would be sold for scrap and broken up in November 1946 and by October 1947 she would be gone from the world, but never to be forgotten.

Match Book Cover

Detail from Magazine Advertising

Luggage Label

( Back )

( S.S. FRANCE Page )

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